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Residents lament darkness despite ‘Light Up Lagos’ project, fear more vicious night attacks

By Bertram Nwannekanma
19 April 2022   |   4:10 am
Residents and motorists are lamenting increasing darkness on major roads in Lagos, despite the colossal sum spent on the ‘Light Up Lagos’ project, initiated by former governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

State of Lagos Airport road at night PHOTO : ENIOLA DANIEL

• We are working on it, says government
Residents and motorists are lamenting increasing darkness on major roads in Lagos, despite the colossal sum spent on the ‘Light Up Lagos’ project, initiated by former governor Akinwunmi Ambode.

According to the then government, the initiative was in demonstration of commitment towards building a 24/7 economy that would create employment and wealth for the state.

Built on a tripod consisting the Light Up Lagos Advisory Committee; Community Electrification, and the Street Lighting Initiative, the package formed part of the state’s security strategy to make the city and neighbourhoods competitive, safe and secure.

The project was further reinvigorated by Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration, which replaced all streetlights in the state with smart LED lighting.

The Guardian learnt that governor Sanwo-Olu’s new vigour termed: ‘Streetlight Retrofit Project’, was unanimously approved by the State’s Executive Council in furtherance of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of his administration.

According to government officials, making the state a 21st century economy by leveraging private sector partnerships to accelerate infrastructure interventions was one of the key initiatives promoted in the agenda.

Represented by the Commissioner for Energy & Mineral Resources, Engr. Olalere Odusote, the government on December 31, 2020, executed a Streetlight Infrastructure Agreement with LEDCO Limited for the retrofit of existing conventional High-Pressure Sodium (HPS) streetlight installations across the state to Smart Light Emitting Diode (“Smart LED”) lights (the “Streetlight Retrofit Project”).

One of the features of the LED lighting system is the use of significantly lower energy to produce the same amount of luminosity.

In the pilot phase of the project, it was determined that LED lighting resulted in a reduction of up to 60per cent of the operations and maintenance costs of streetlight infrastructure.

But, a year after some streets were illuminated, they have been thrown again into total or partial darkness.

While there are a few cases, where darkness is as a result of ongoing construction works, which have necessitated bringing down the lamp stands and plunging the stretches into darkness, the same cannot be said of others.

A resident, John Oteh, said some of the streets have been in darkness either as a result of teething challenges, poor maintenance, use of fake materials, lack of attention or a combination of all these.

He noted that Zik’s House (Ile Zik) in Ikeja to the old Sango Tollgate on the Lagos/Abeokuta Expressway, which was then undergoing construction is not yet restored.

According to him, the same applies to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) expressway to Oshodi, one of the nation’s gateways, which has been in darkness.

Oteh said in the past three years, there were claims that the streetlights were disconnected to give room for road construction on that axis, but the stretch has since been taken over by darkness.

A motorist, Kunle  Adeosun, noted that even the stretch from Charity Bus Stop, Oshodi, to Ilasamaja Bus Stop along the Oshodi/Apapa Expressway, which became illuminated sometime ago, is now a very poor example of how streetlights should work.

He noted the situation around Toyota and Five-Star Bus Stops, it gets so bad that they remain off for several days, endangering motorists and passersby except few illumination from nearby companies assisting commuters to navigate the axis at night.

Adeosun said this unfortunate development usually allows robbers and street urchins to return to Toyota Bus Stop to ply their nefarious activities.

He stressed that hoodlums have also capitalised on the darkness to rob and rape passers-by on the route.

The Police have also listed the bus stop as one of the most notorious in the country.

Abule Egba/Ekoro Junction and Ekoro Junction/Ile-Epo Oja, are other locations that have once again been thrown into darkness.

Only recently, operatives of the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) paraded  three robbers arrested on  April 5, 2022.

Some items recovered from them include, a beretta pistol and four rounds of ammunition at Toyota Bus-Stop.

The arrest followed a tip-off from civic-minded Lagosians to the RRS officers, who were on routine patrol along Ladipo and Oshodi.

Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) Benjamin Hundeyin, said, preliminary investigations revealed the robbers were members of Aro–Baga cult group.

They were about to rob their second victim when the RRS patrol team arrived the scene, while a swift follow-up led the RRS to their converging point at No7 Alhaji Monsuru Street, Ijegun, where two other suspects were arrested.

Similarly, motorists, commuters and pedestrians, who used to have a delightful night experience around Oke-Koto/Afa Nla, in  Agege area of the state are complaining that the  streetlights  in those areas no longer  come alive.

Areas like Agidingbi and ACME roads in Ikeja, Allen Avenue-Opebi Road, are among lucky areas that have not gone completely dark at nightfall as the streetlights there still work in fits and starts.

For some time now, not a single lamp stand along the whole stretch of Sadiku Street, in the Papa Ajao area of Mushin Local Council is not functioning.

Some light stands that were erected along Isolo Road (from Iyana Isolo up to Ojuwoye Market in Mushin) are not working efficiently.

A resident in the area, Adekunle Areo wondered the rationale behind decorating streets with lamp stands that function once in a long while.

He said:  “This Isolo Road project was started by Governor Fashola many years ago. Of course, he left office without completing the project. His predecessor Akinwunmi Ambode completed the project.

“But the streetlights are not working as they should. Most times, it is only the stretch from the police station under the Iyana Isolo Bridge, up to Oye Roundabout that comes on.

“The rest are just there. So it is important that we let the governor know that these streetlights are not working as they should so that he will do something about the situation.”

Another motorist, Alhaji Biskariat  Ahmed, said  government should consider the use of solar for streetlights as some that are powered by generating plants are often vandalised.

She added that the high cost of keeping the generators running constantly could as well be one of the reasons that the streetlights are not working optimally,

Also, Alhaja Ahmed expressed concerns about the situation at Toyota Bus Stop, where she claimed robbers operating around that axis have been responsible for destroying the streetlights because their criminal activities are being hindered by the lights.

She appealed to the state government to do everything possible to ensure that streetlights were on constantly to secure lives, a development he said, would further boost the state’s economy.

REACTING, the General Manager of Lagos State Electricity Board (LSEB), Mukhtaar Tijani, said some of the lights are affected by ongoing construction on some roads.

Tijani, who is in charge of the implementing agency under the Lagos State Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resource, pointed out the streetlights going towards the old toll gate at the boundary with Ogun State are affected by road construction.

He said: “ You should have noticed some road constructions here and there, that is the reason behind darkness in some of the roads.

“The construction work going on towards the old toll gate is a Federal Government project. It is a big project going from Lagos to Ibadan. So, that is what is affecting that axis. We are waiting for them to complete it so that we can re-commission it.

“For the airport road, we have had a series of meetings with the Federal Government. It is actually a project that the contractor hasn’t handed over back to us.

“I don’t know why? But we have to iron that out. We will resolve it very soon.

“It is for us to join our hands together to ensure that the issues are addressed. I am aware of the issue and it is one that we are on top of. We are really working to resolve it. I apologise to Lagosians for the inconvenience.”

On the use of solar energy,  Tijani said the board has tried it before, but we will try again, now that the price of diesel is high.

“We can give it a try. When we tried solar before, we didn’t get the real result, because it wasn’t bright enough.

“We are looking at newer improvements in that technology to see if we can get a better product to install.

“We installed solar in some rural areas actually last month in the project we did. But, we can’t install solar all over the place.

We can’t rely on solar in the kind of roads you are talking about.

“Before the end of this month we should be able to resolve some of the streets and roads,” he added.